From: Brian John Sent: 09 October 2011 13:53 To: LEFFLER-ROTH Carolyn Cc: EVANS Jill OFFICE; LEPAGE Corinne; AUKEN Margrete Subject: Re: Petitions Committee -- progress?
European Parliament Committee on Petitions RMD 05J016 1047 Bruxelles Belgium
Tel: +32 2 283 2095
I am writing further to your letter dated 17 March. More than six months have now passed since my most recent presentation of my two Petitions regarding GM approvals and EFSA, and the rights of European citizens. As you will recall, my points were well received by the Committee, and I believe that commitments were made as follows:
1. There will be consultations relating to the DETAILS of my two Petitions with both the Environment and Agriculture Committees, to see if there is support from those bodies.
2. Committee will press for an in-depth investigation of the matters which I (and the Avaaz petitioners) have complained about, and will support the call for a GM approvals moratorium in the meantime.
3. There will be immediate communication with Commissioner Dalli, pressing him to take action in response to the Avaaz Petition of 1.2 million signatures from European citizens. I think there was also the suggestion that the Petitions Committee should take on board this Avaaz Petition and press forward with it.
4. There will be immediate communication with EFSA asking them to respond to my specific concerns (rather than allowing Sebastien Goux to make vague and generalised points evading the key issues).
5. Committee will press EFSA on the obvious conflicts of interests of EFSA board members and GMO Panel members who have links with ILSI and other trade organizations and lobbying groups.
6. Committee will contact STOA for independent judgement of EFSA's industry links, biased scientific methods and lack of impartiality.
I will be very grateful if you will let me know what progress has been made on all these matters, since more and more studies are showing that negative health effects are associated with the consumption of GM crops and foods. In my view this is a matter of the greatest urgency.
With many thanks.
Name: Brian John and colleagues Postal Address: Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire SA42 0QN, Wales, UK Nationality: Welsh Title of Petition 436/2010: Formal protest from scientists against the Commission's draft regulation on implementing rules concerning the applications for authorisation of GM food and feed.
Name: Brian John Postal Address: Trefelin, Cilgwyn, Newport, Pembrokeshire SA42 0QN, Wales, UK Nationality: Welsh Title of Petition 0813-08: The importance of impartiality within EFSA & the food safety rights of EU citizens ============================
16 March 2011 -- Plaid Cymru
Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans has welcomed today's decision by the European Parliament's Petitions Committee to call for an investigation into the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA). The decision follows two petitions submitted by Dr Brian John of anti-GMO campaign organisation GM Free Cymru and supported by Ms Evans.
MEPs heard serious questions raised about EFSA's impartiality in taking decisions in respect of authorising GMOs, with key concerns including: * EFSA's use of confidential, untested data provided by the applicants in making its decisions; * The pro-industry bias of EFSA's decisions panel with a majority drawn from GM industry backgrounds; * A lack of independent scientific testing of plants prior to authorisation decisions; * A lack of transparency and public access to the decision making process; * Inflexibility in decision making and a refusal to review decisions over time. Concerns were also raised about the European Commission's proposals for future reform of the GM authorisation process.
The committee heard that public opposition to GM crops now stands at 61% across Europe according to recent polls. MEPs were also told of the Avaaz Citizen's petition against GMOs which collected more 1.2 million signatures. This was presented to the European Commission last December, and so far no action has been taken.
Speaking after the meeting in Brussels, Jill Evans MEP said:
"Very serious concerns have been raised about EFSA's impartiality and its decision making process in respect of GMO authorisations. I'm very pleased that the European Parliament's Petitions Committee has decided that this warrants further investigation.
"We have asked the Environment Committee to look into the concerns that have been raised. We will also be writing to EFSA to request urgent clarification on the more serious points.
"In light of these very serious concerns I would urge the European Commission to take the matter in hand. EFSA must be reformed so that the public can have confidence in its decision making process. We need independence and transparency at EFSA and the Commission must ensure that happens."
Dr Brian John of GM Free Cymru told MEPs:
"Parliament must insist that EFSA is reformed to eliminate the 'revolving door' approach which sees far too much industry influence exercised at the heart of the organisation.
"The authorisation process should be open, transparent and fully independent. The basis on which decisions are made must be verifiable and open to scrutiny. This is important not only from a food safety perspective but also in terms of enhancing public trust.
"EFSA is allowed far too much discretion in its operations. I am pleased that the European Parliament is taking very seriously indeed its role in providing proper scrutiny of this agency. I fully welcome further investigation into EFSA and in particular into its decision making processes."
Text of petitions can be found at: